Last night marked the return of everyone’s favourite (loosely based on reality) business show – The Apprentice. Millions tuned in to see Lord Sugar task his latest batch of narcissists and dreamers with something that, let’s be honest, a well-trained monkey could probably just about pull off.
Whilst this entertainment-led programming is a far cry from the real world, it’s interesting to see our continued fascination with all things entrepreneurial.
Indeed, the youth of today is deemed to be the most enterprising, go-getting and business minded generation for decades.
This has been confirmed by statistics released by Duedil & Enterprise Nation that compared pre-recession company formation rates with 2013 statistics, seeing the steepest increase in activity amongst the under-35 bracket. This is corroborated further by the stat that over 55% of 16-25s want to set up their own firm (sources: The Telegraph and UnLtd).
This doesn’t mean we have a new, Tsunami-sized wave of Deborah Meadens and Karren Bradys in our midst, but more that the number of small scale enterprises (Etsy marketplace shops, eBay businesses and Kickstarter funds) we see from young people will continue to grow and evolve. In the next five years, the Future Foundation predicts that most will incorporate some entrepreneurial elements into their day-to-day lives, and this reflects the more modest statistic that one in three expect (rather than want) to start their own business.
In the past few studies I’ve undertaken with the 16-24 age bracket, I’ve noticed patterns in the ideas and dreams that they have – most notably the desire to build something from scratch, and in turn give something back to the community or world around them.
This is because whilst they are driven by the concept of business, they are steered and fuelled by the notion of community.
They are a generation who have grown up in a period of recession, spiralling tuition fees and a real sense of social justice. Where governments in their eyes fail to act, they take more responsibility for financial and social well-being.
This has powerful implications for the brands, broadcasters and media owners trying to talk to and engage with them. Brands who in their eyes don’t seem to deliver on things that they themselves would like to support if they were in the position to, will not be viewed favourably.
The secondary implication for marketers is one which begs them to take into account the inevitable and fairly imminent development in peer-to-peer social platforms becoming ‘shoppable’ (think Pinterest and Instagram for starters). Establishing strong, relatable and fresh personas on these channels ahead of time will help to ease the transition into direct purchase, and avoid an “Us & Them” mentality from smaller, independent sellers who have built their business solely through these media from their bedrooms.